|IIUSA Executive Director Peter D. Joseph holds up The Regional Center Business Journal, IIUSA’s quarterly magazine, at the EB-5 Roundtable Discussion, September 8, 2014 in Xiamen, China.
CIFIT 2014: Representing America with over 200 U.S. Delegates
By Kelvin Ma, IIUSA International Membership Subcomittee Chairman, Partner, Shanghai Demei Law Firm
(The full article can be seen in the Q3 Issue of the Regional Center Business Journal, coming to your inbox soon!)
The 18th annual China International Fair for Investment & Trade in Xiamen ended with complete success this year. IIUSA appreciated the cooperation of our partners, the Fujian Exit-Entry Association and the American Chamber of Commerce of South China, to make this trade mission a substantial success.
What is CIFIT?
The China International Fair for Investment and Trade (CIFIT) is the largest official investment-based trade show in China, the predominant EB-5 market contributing more than 80% of all EB-5 investments. CIFIT takes place every September in Xiamen, China, and is set up like a mini-world expo, with pavilions from more than 40 countries and regions each seeking to attract investment while showcasing their respective investment environments, policies and projects to the world. In 2013, CIFIT had more than 16,000 attendees from 120 countries and regions, as well as over 600 governmental institutions, chambers of commerce and intermediary agencies. CIFIT was even more successful this year than last, with over 40 exhibitors and attendees from 80 organizations and far more EB-5 specific programming. The enthusiasm from the attendees seemed to set a fire in hot and humid Xiamen.
Multilateral Partnerships: Cooperation among IIUSA, the American Chamber of Commerce South China, and the Fujian Entry-Exit Association
Since early 2013, IIUSA has worked closely with AmCham South China and the Fujian Entry-Exit Association to establish and enhance vital relationships with strategic partners (including Chinese exit/entry associations and the U.S. Department of Commerce), recruit new migration agency members, and educate the Chinese market on the EB-5 Program. In addition to co-hosting the USA pavilion at CIFIT, IIUSA and its partners in China have collaborated on media events and brought together international partners from across sectors to strengthen the economic bonds of friendship between China and the U.S. through the EB-5 Regional Center Program. The American delegation to CIFIT had over 230 members, including regional centers and projects, attorneys, economists, media, and more. The USA pavilion co-hosted by IIUSA and AmCham South China had over 42 booths from 32 IIUSA member organizations. IIUSA joined with AmCham South China and the Fujian Entry-Exit Association to hold events including the Sino-US Immigration Investment Summit & Welcome Banquet of Mid-Autumn Festival, an EB-5 Roundtable Discussion, a seminar on EB-5 hot topics and trends, and a lunch meeting joined by IIUSA directors and heads from China’s Exit-Entry Associations.
These events for investors and migration agencies demonstrated a commitment to industry development and an establishment of common understanding.
Built on the sea and with the sea in the city, Xiamen is also known as Sea Garden. Islands, reefs, crags, temples, flowers and trees all serve as a foil to each other. The weather is like spring all the year round, adding brilliance to the charm of the sea. IIUSA, with its large delegation, visited this charming Garden on the Sea during the occasion of the Mid-Autumn Festival, making the days colorful and memorable.
Sep 6, 2014
At the Xiamen Westin Hotel, IIUSA delegate members registered, picked up badges, and arranged exhibitions. Everyone was ready to start the exciting CIFIT trip.
Sep 7, 2014
IIUSA delegates were invited to attend the CIFIT press conference of AmCham South China. Both wished CIFIT a great success.
Because the second day would be Mid-Autumn Festival, IIUSA and the Fujian Entry-Exit Association together held a welcome banquet for Sino-USA CIFIT delegates to show their gratitude. The banquet was hosted by IIUSA Executive Director, Peter D. Joseph, and the IIUSA International Committee Chairman’s Assistant, Iris Wu. All the delegate members had a joyous gathering and moon festival celebration. IIUSA was glad to invite the leaders from ten provincial-level exit-entry associations to be present. During the banquet, K. David Andersson representing IIUSA with Qingbo Lu representing Fujian Association issued plaques to exit-entry heads and thanked them for coming. IIUSA has been working closely with each association since the Washington DC conference to ensure the healthy development of the EB-5 industry. IIUSA also thanked Kelvin (“Ning”) Ma, Chairman of the IIUSA International Committee, and Shanghai Demei Law Firm for their contributions. IIUSA issued an invitation to participate in its annual Market Exchange to be held in San Francisco this October. Under the bright moonlight, the banquet ended in cheers and laughter.
Sep 8, 2014
IIUSA delegates arrived at the Xiamen International Exhibition Center in the early morning to participate in the opening ceremony of the 18th CIFIT. After that, over 500 attendees and 30 regional centers gathered at the crowded USA pavilion, watching and ribbon-cutting ceremony, signaling its official opening.
In the afternoon, IUSA held an EB-5 roundtable discussion hosted by Kelvin (“Ning Ma”), Chairman of the IIUSA International Committee and Natalia Martinez, an IIUSA member from Brooks City Base Regional Center in San Antonio, Texas. Ning Shao, president of the Council of American States in China (CASIC), and his governmental delegates from Prince George’s County, Maryland and Washington, DC, opened the seminar with a brief speech, followed by short statements from IIUSA President K. David Andersson, IIUSA Executive Director Peter D. Joseph, Chairman of International Committee Kelvin (“Ning”) Ma and President of Fujian Association Qingbo Lu.
Representatives from exit-entry associations introduced China’s exit-entry policy and regulations related to marketing in China. Tina Hou of Civitas Capital Group, representing IIUSA’s Best Practices Committee (BPC) which is Chaired by Civitas CEO and IIUSA Director Daniel J. Healy, introduced best practices work past, present, and future. The duty of BPC is to educate the marketplace and maintain high standards for quality, ethics and integrity in the EB-5 industry. The recommendations issued by the BPC set high standards for IIUSA’s members to promote responsible, professional and ethical behavior and reinforce confidence in the EB-5 industry. The number of approved Regional Centers has risen rapidly over the past few years. The emergence of high profile fraud highlights the importance of best practices. The SEC and FINRA are also accelerating scrutiny of the EB-5 industry.
In 2014, BPC recommended updates to IIUSA’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct as well as enforcement procedures, which was adopted by the membership at the 2014 annual membership meeting. The BPC plans to further promote transparency in the market and foster clear communication among project sponsors, investment managers, foreign agents and foreign investors. The BPC will work on the following four major initiatives: (1) Best Practices for Foreign Agents (2) Best Practices for Broker-Dealers (3) Regulation D/S 101 White Paper to educate the membership, and (4) Coordination of BPC with other IIUSA Committees. In addition, BPC hopes to choose certain qualified migration agents to participate in finalizing their current work on marketing issues..
Ron Klasko, former chairman of BPC, explained the most popular issue in Mainland China these days: visa availability and retrogression. He addressed questions including: What is EB-5 visa availability? How many investors could get conditional green cards once retrogression happens? At which stage are those visa quotas allocated? How will the EB-5 visa availability affect investors from Mainland China? Why were EB-5 visas not used up last year, as predicted? How long will investors from Mainland China wait once retrogression happens? What should those children facing the age-out problem do?
The around 10,000 annual EB-5 visas available each year are allocated to petitioners by his priority date. It does not affect USCIS processing of I-526 and I-829 petitions. Everything resets on October 1, when visas may be issued again freely. So visa unavailability in September 2014 had a low impact. Mr. Klasko speculated that in May to July next year, we can expect the State Department in its monthly “Visa Bulletin” to post a “cut-off date” for mainland China that essentially says only those applicants whose approved I-526 was filed before that date may be approved by USCIS for adjustment of status or scheduled by a U.S. consulate for immigrant visa interview. We can expect the cut-off date to be sometime in 2015. For those families with children close to 21 years old, they should carefully consider the effect of age-out, which would cause the children to lose the benefits of getting a visa as dependents. For the EB-5 Program, a cut-off date may extend the time frame for investment and job creation. Thus, everyone should be fully prepared for the upcoming visa retrogression.
IIUSA Director Tom Rosenfeld and IIUSA Executive Director Peter D. Joseph gave a speech on EB-5 legislative and other government/public affairs updates. The permanent authorization of the EB-5 Regional Center program has both Democratic and Republican support. We hope the Congress can permanently authorize the Regional Center Program and solve the upcoming visa retrogression issue through increasing quotas or removing the per-country caps on visas among other fixes.
Negative reports about EB-5 can affect Congressional attitudes toward the Regional Center Program, which is disadvantageous to permanent authorization. We need to prevent fraud, respond to negative reports on regional centers and projects, and provide material for positive media coverage. Topics like how to evaluate the percentage of EB-5 funds in a project, conflicts of interest among immigration attorneys, finder’s fees, and project’s risk alert to investors also attract audience interest.
The afternoon seminar on EB-5 hot topics, which was open to the public, was a highlight of CIFIT. IIUSA President David Andersson and Executive Director Peter D. Joseph led the seminar, which included speeches from the chairman of the IIUSA Membership Committee Kyle Walker (Green Card Fund)，Chairman of the Guangdong Association Boyi He，Chairman of Beijing Association Yuzhang Chen, Chairman of the Shanghai Association Yao Yao and Chairman of the Fujian Association Qingbo Lu. IIUSA International Committee Chairman Kelvin (“Ning”) Ma and IIUSA member Dandan Zou (Mainstay Global) acted as host and field interpreter.
IIUSA member and Vice Chairman of Guangdong Association Rachel Zou and IIUSA Director Tom Rosenfeld jointly discussed EB-5 project due diligence and the China market for EB-5. IIUSA has repeatedly stressed the importance of due diligence and commits their strong support to China EB-5 market.
At the end of the conference, IIUSA and the Fujian Association gifted a deed of gratitude to the American Chamber of Commerce South China in recognition of its cooperation. IIUSA and its partners also thank participating members of China’s provincial Exit-Entry Associations:
1. Mr. Qingbo Lu, Chairman, Fujian Exit-Entry
2. Mr. Yuzhang Chen, Chairman, Beijing Exit-Entry
3. Mr. Lixin Qi, Chairman, Beijing Exit-Entry
4. Ms. Yao Yao, Chairman, Shanghai Exit-Entry
5. Mr. Peter Zeng, Chairman, Wuhan Exit-Entry
6. Ms. Rachel Wang, Chairwoman, Chongqing Exit-Entry
7. Ms. Danhua Zhang, Chairwoamn, Liaoning Exit-Entry
8. Ms.Dan Zhu, Chairwoman, Sichuan Exit-Entry
9. Ms. Wenwen Chen, Vice-chairwoman, Zhejiang Exit-Entry
10. Mr. YanwuXie, Vice-chairman, Guangdong Exit-Entry
11. Mr. Zhongyi Pei, Vice-chairman, Shandong Exit-entry
12. Mr. Xin Chang, Secretary General, Beijing Exit-Entry
13. Mr. Zhangwei Liu, Secretary General, Sichuan Exit-Entry
Autumn is the season of achievements. The IIUSA delegation returned from Xiamen with rewarding results. The next gathering will be IIUSA’s 4th Annual EB-5 Market Exchange to be held in San Francisco October 22-24. . IIUSA sincerely invites all of you to come to San Francisco to join this meeting. Next April, IIUSA will celebrate its 10th anniversary at the Annual Meeting and 8th Annual EB-5 Advocacy Conference in Washington, DC.